New Innovations in Circulatory Support With Ventricular Assist Device and Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Therapy

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The past decade has seen an exponential increase in the application and development of durable long-term as well as nondurable short-term mechanical circulatory support for cardiogenic shock and acute or chronic heart failure. Support has evolved from bridge-to-transplant to destination therapy, bridge to rescue, bridge to decision making, and bridge to a bridge. Notable trends include device miniaturization, minimally invasive and/or percutaneous insertion, and efforts to superimpose pulsatility on continuous flow. We can certainly anticipate that innovation will accelerate in the months and years to come. However, despite—or perhaps because of—the enhanced equipment now available, mechanical circulatory support is an expensive, complex, resource-intensive modality. It requires considerable expertise that should preferably be centralized to highly specialized centers. Formidable challenges remain: systemic inflammatory response syndromes and vasoplegia after device insertion; postoperative sepsis; optimal anticoagulation regimens to prevent device-induced thrombosis and cerebral thromboembolism; wound site, intracranial, and gastrointestinal bleeding; multisystem injury and failure; patient dissatisfaction (even when providers consider the procedure a “success”); and ethical decision making in conditions of futility.

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